Do you know what your kids are eating? Chances are that if your child is eating solids, then you may not be so sure. Especially if your child is old enough to walk home from school or drive a car, then I think we both know you aren’t able to keep tabs on their food when you’re out of sight.
When I read an NPR article, written by Youth Radio reporter, Chantell Williams, it got me thinking. Do I know everything that my 4 year old eats? Nope!
I prepare 80% of the food my son eats, which leaves another 20% of his diet up to people I trust him with. He gets snacks at preschool (“healthy” carb & juice), not to mention the special treats for birthdays and holidays. He spends time with family members, friends and playdates where people provide him with love, safety and FOOD.
Now, many of the people I allow my son to spend time with are pretty familiar with my endeavors to provide my family with healthy food and avoid junk. Sometimes they go out of their way to help reinforce that focus on nutrition in their own setting. For instance, my in-laws replaced many of the sweets in their “grab a snack” basket with items I allow at home, like Larabars. This was a huge move to help make my son’s experiences with food more consistently healthy.
Of course if your kids are old enough to make many of their own food choices, what can you do? As the article mentions, many of the parents assumed that their kids knew the right choices to make. In fact, many of the kids did know the right choice, but didn’t make it. The big disconnect was that parents stopped talking to kids about food, nutrition and health risks.
Want to know who is talking to your kids? That’s right: soda, energy drinks, sugary cereals, fast food, chips, …. do I need to go on? Even more importantly, their friends and environments are telling them that this type of eating is normal. For example, when I was younger there was bragging rights for how many tacos you could eat. It seemed perfectly normal to me and without consequence because my circle of influence was ok with it.
Be a part of your kid’s circle of influence! Talk to your kids. Be an example of good health. You will not always be able to prepare your kids food, but you can prepare them for the decisions they will face.
Here is an easy creamy smoothie that your kids will love
1/2 c frozen pineapple
1 handful spinach
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Chia Seeds (optional)
2 to 4 ice cubes